Search marketing and social media have become essential ingredients in the digital marketing mix. Together, the two channels accounted for more than 50% of total digital media spend in 2013 and are expected to capture a growing share of global ad dollars in the future.
Both channels offer advertisers massive, highly engaged audiences:
- More than 92% of global Internet users utilize search engines and 59% use them regularly. (SearchEngineWatch.com)
- More than 73% of global Internet users visit social platforms and 63% use them daily. (Pew Research)
While hugely popular with consumers, search and social platforms present distinct tactical advantages (and challenges) for marketers, and thus play very different roles in the customer journey:
- The bid-based, conversion-obsessed world of search is valued for its ability to capture customers’ attention at the precise moment that they’re in a buying state of mind. But while showing ads based on consumer search queries is great for driving leads, very little is known about the customer during the search process other than her query. Is she a first-time buyer or loyal customer? Will she buy a low-margin item or purchase several high-margin items?
- Conversely, social advertising enables advertisers to have a dialogue with target audience segments based on rich demographic data and behavioral attributes. However, while effective for building brand value, social platforms are difficult environments for driving conversions because they provide no insight into a consumer’s buying intentions. Social is better suited to “assisting” conversions from other channels than for driving sales.
Not surprisingly, marketers are seeking to boost their overall ROI by leveraging the best of both worlds. This typically means creating social media campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that engage customers, and using paid search in tandem to turn those customers into buyers.
Marin Software’s findings: Integrated campaigns are more effective
Marin Software, a leader in integrated campaign management for search, social and display ads, recently conducted a study to investigate whether managing search and social together can improve performance and increase the value delivered by each channel. Marin’s research focused on two questions:
- Is a customer who touches an ad in both search and social channels more valuable than one who touches an ad in only one of those channels?
- Does an integrated approach to managing search and social campaigns produce superior results?
More than 200 enterprise advertisers were surveyed, revealing results that suggest that the practice of integrating search and social campaigns produces a multiplier effect on outcomes vs. campaigns run in isolation. Among the key takeaways:
- Customers who click on search and social ads are more likely to buy. Users who clicked on both converted at about two times the rate of users who clicked on a search ad only. Users who clicked on search and social ads had a click-through rate about 4.5 times greater than users who clicked only on social ads.
- Customers who click on search and social ads spend more. Users who clicked on both search and social ads spent two times more per click than users who clicked on search ads only. Users clicking on search and social ads contributed four times more revenue per click than those who clicked on a social ad only.
- Search campaigns perform better when they’re managed on an integrated basis with social campaigns. An integrated strategy resulted in 26% higher revenue per click compared to search campaigns managed in isolation.
“The customer’s buying journey touches several different channels along the path to conversion,” said Daniel Morris, Director of Product Marketing at Marin Software. “When we are able to manage, measure, and optimize our two most important channels side by side, we are better equipped to make sound budgeting, bidding and targeting decisions that affect performance.”
Success in integrating campaigns requires advertisers to adapt their strategies to be more audience-centric and less focused on individual channels, Morris said. Shifting focus to the customer requires fast, scalable access to cross-channel engagement data, a benefit Marin enjoys as a Signal Certified Partner.
“Signal helps our mutual clients take an audience-centric approach by enabling them to collect and connect data in real time across all channels and devices involved in the purchase cycle,” said Morris. “This dovetails perfectly with Marin’s digital platforms, which allows advertisers to identify and optimize audiences with the highest lifetime value.”